Sometimes you just have to adjust and adapt.
That was the recent revelation for McPherson College men’s basketball coach Tim Swartzendruber, who came to the realization that a style that worked for past uber-successful Bulldog teams didn’t fit his current team’s personnel.
“I like to play a faster game, I like to get up and down the floor,” Swartzendruber said. “It wasn’t working with this group. We took bad shots, we turned the ball over. Honest, we just made a lot of poor decisions. We just went back over Christmas and said we’ve got to simplify things. We’ve got to make it a possessions game.”
So the Bulldogs have switched gears. It nearly resulted in a win on Thursday at Sterling, as they led for more than 38 minutes before losing on a last-second shot.
Saturday at the Sport Center, the new-look Bulldogs controlled the tempo against Ottawa from start to finish for an 82-72 victory, ending a four-game KCAC losing streak.
Mac is now 2-4 heading into a home game on Thursday against Southwestern.
“I thought in the first half that we just defended well,” said Swartzendruber, whose team was stifling defensively to build a 42-25 lead. “We got a lot of stops. We had only one turnover. We got a few baskets in transition, but our shot selection was good in the first half.”
Mac never allowed the Braves to cut the lead to single digits, despite getting it down to as close as 10 on several occasions.
The balance has returned for the Bulldogs, who placed five players in double figures. Darius Hill led the way with 19, while others in doubles were TJ Grant (13), Kenny Berry (13), Chris Crook (12) and Latron Jolly (11). The Bulldogs shot just under 50 percent from the field overall and from 3-point, while committing just eight turnovers.
OU’s Marshon Norfleet kept the game from totally getting out of hand as he poured in 30 points, 23 in the second half.
The Bulldogs are 6-12 overall with two wins in their last three games.
Mac (82) — Beeler 1, Hill 19, Grant 13, Berry 13, Crooks 12, Henson 9, Bachura 2, Jolly 11, Martinez 2.
Ottawa (72) — Nichols 5, Oakes 7, Lundry 13, Ad. Hasty 7, Norfleet 30, Al. Hasty 1, Falk 2, Bullinger 3, O’Con 2, Newton 2,
• OTTAWA WOMEN 64, MAC 52 — The Bulldogs were down just 30-27 with 16:24 to go, but Ottawa went on a 17-6 rampage to assume command.
It was the same script for Mac — 3 of 24 from 3-point, 0 of 14 from players not named Sunny Smart.
But the highlight of this game was a school-record 10 blocked shots by freshman Alicia Demaret, who broke Whitney Pegram’s record by one. She also pulled down nine rebounds.
Bailey Brown scored 16 points to lead Mac, one more than Smart. No other Bulldog had more than seven. After just six turnovers in the first half, Mac threw it away 15 times in the second half.
Mac was down just 25-21 at the half, but scored 17 of its points in the first nine minutes as the cold stretch to close out the half proved to be fatal.
“We were missing chippie shots... they’ve just got to fall,” said Mac coach Gordon Reimer, whose team is now 1-5 in the KCAC and 2-16 overall. “You go on droughts, stretches like these against those good teams, you’re just not going to come out ahead.”
Ashley Romig and Madison Stewart had double-doubles for OU. Romig scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Stewart — who originally signed with Mac before decommitting — scored 13 and pulled down 14 rebounds.
The Bulldogs have a brutal week coming up, playing Southwestern and Friends on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. The Southwestern game is at the Sport Center, the Friends game on the road.
Mac (52) — Atkins 4, Demaret 4, Brown 16, S. Smart 15, Abra 7, G. Smart 6.
Ottawa (64) — Romig 15, Grammer 2, Skidmore 12, Stewart 13, Hodison 4, Thomas 7, Strader 3, Tucker 2, Boden 3, Beck 3.